The grass is greener on the other server
Has this ever happened to you?
You’ve been stuck in a rut, trapped in a dull, monotonous lifestyle. You’ve heard rumors that there’s a better world out there, but you’ve never been brave enough to strike it out on your own… until now. Selling all your belongings, you and a friend make the one-way trip from your former life to the promise of something better. Suddenly, your journey stops abruptly, as your transport falls from the sky and you land in a weird version of the supposed paradise. Trapped, you and your friend need to work together to escape this parallel world and get back on track to the promised land.
Happened to all of us, right?
Well, it’s definitely happened to the two main characters of Super Co-Op Adventure, an adorably delightful platformer that can be played alone or with a friend.
Players take on the role (or roles) of charming little parallelograms, P1 and P2, who wanted nothing more than to leave the EmptyNet for a better life in the ExtraNet; unfortunately, something went wrong and they’re stuck, so they need to work together to escape. Single players will take on the roles of both characters, while those who’ve managed to find a friend to play with them will take on an avatar each.
If it sounds confusing to control both characters simultaneously, don’t worry, as the control scheme is actually really intuitive: P1 uses the A and D keys to move left and right and W to jump, while P2 moves about the screen with the left and right mouse buttons. P1 can jump where P2 can’t, but that’s okay, as P2 can glide across the screen where P2 somewhat lumbers about. Their strengths complement their weaknesses, and together they’ll solve puzzles to move on to greener pastures.
The puzzles themselves are short and sweet, but might take a few tries to beat. Luckily, pressing the B button restarts the level, so there’s no need to fear failure. Players must collect all the chips in any given level, keeping in mind that some are only accessible to P1 or P2. For example, a chip may be high up on a ledge that only P1 can reach, while P2 will be needed to duck into an opening that only they are small enough to fit into. It’s clever without being overtly simple — by the fifth or so level, you’ll be left scratching your head as you learn new ways to solve these creative puzzles.
Visually, everything about Super Co-op Adventure works — at first glance, it can come across as rushed and unpolished, but nothing could be further from the truth. The game features a filter that makes the screen appear to be an old TV set, framing the levels with rounded corners and even those lines running horizontally throughout that we used to put up with in days gone by. The colors are vibrant and pop against the meticulously crafted retro filter, and the character designs are so delicately simple that they almost end up becoming mascots in a way. I’m a huge fan of P0’s design in particular, as the purple lines coming from his face add just enough interest to really differentiate from the main characters while still feeling a part of their world. To convey this much personality with basic rectangles shows remarkable talent, and I’m happy to say I feel really shocked by the dev team’s ability.
Another small design triumph that stuck out to me is the choice to use a constantly tilting screen. Throughout Super Co-op Adventure, you can really tell something is wrong and topsy-turvy about the world, and a lot of it has to do with the screen never being perfectly horizontal. First it will tilt several degrees off center one way, then make that same tilt in the opposite direction. Back and forth the screen moves, never sitting still. The movement is slow, but obvious, and serves more to set a mood rather than to annoy players. I think it may have subconsciously affected my ability to solve puzzles quicker, but I can’t say for sure as it barely registered while brainstorming potential solutions. It was just enough to add interest, and overall a really unique choice that the devs should be commended for.
Above all the glowing praise sits the best part of Super Co-op Adventure, and that’s the music. Hands down, this soundtrack features the best use of Chiptunes I’ve heard all year — I practically squealed with joy when I first booted up the game just for the music alone — and just really sells home the overall feel the dev team is trying to convey. They absolutely nailed the music, making an older genre feel fresh (and in 2019, what a treat!).
If I have any constructive criticism, it’s just one small bit of feedback, and that’s that the dialogue could use some editing. It’s more the grammatical errors than the spelling mistakes that caught my eye, so a spellcheck program alone unfortunately may not cut it. With Super Co-op Adventure inching ever nearer to a release date, this is one oft overlooked aspect of development that would immediately elevate this game and should certainly receive some time and attention.
Super Co-op Adventure‘s release date is currently TBD; for those who cannot wait to get their hands on this charming little co-op platformer, feel free to download their free demo here.